Running as fast as I can since '93
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  • Mid Season Update: Making up for lost blogs

    Posted on August 6th, 2014

    I began writing this blog over five years ago to share my experiences training, competing and living as a student-athlete at Northern Arizona University. I had always been a deligent recorder of all aspects running in my personal running log, so I thought I might as well put this stuff on a blog to allow friends and family (mostly Mom, Dad and teammates looking for a shoutout, originally) to see what I was up to. After a couple years had passed, I realized that I had created this great resource for myself to remember what I had done in the past, mistakes I’d made, decisions that had worked out, and perhaps most importantly, things that had previously motivated me to be my best.

    I had great expectations for myself for the 2014 season. With the exception of a couple bright spots (New Plymouth WC and Yokohama WTS), results have been fairly disappointing this year. This, in addition to the time committed to training, travel, life, etc., has created an excuse for me not to continue documenting my experiences along the way. It’s August now, and looking at my blogging for the year, I see that I have left a few holes, which kinda upsets me.

    There are some great views on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner.

    There are some great views on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner.

    I am now sitting on a train travelling south along the coast from Simi Valley back down to San Diego. I went on a short trip to Tucson (via plane) to help my girlfriend move out of her place in Tucson and over to Simi Valley (via truck/car). I have learned taking the train is quite relaxing, but can be very slow — my departure from Simi was delayed over an hour, and then I sat at LA’s Union Station for about an hour and a half until continuing on. Anyway, all that to say that I had some time + Wifi on my hands, and thus: this blog!

    My last good race update was from my first three ITU races of the season back in March. Those races were highlighted by my 18th place finish at the New Plymouth World Cup against some very good competition. Shortly after returning from that trip, I had a bit of a cycling accident, crashing into a fairly large commercial truck. I was lucky in that I came away with just some bruised ribs and my bike only suffered a few scratches. My front wheel took the brunt of the impact and was totalled. Turns out carbon fiber makes for a pretty good one-time-use bumper, though not a very cost effective one. ENVE took care of me and sent me a new SES 3, and I was back  on my bike in a couple of days. Swimming and running took a bit longer to come along, but after a few weeks, I put all that behind me.

    IMG_2161In April I went to Barbados for a Sprint Pan American Cup race. I swam well enough to get into a group of some strong cyclists that were willing to work together, and we caught the lead pack about halfway through the race. I struggled on the run and finished up 8th. Disappointed that I missed a good opportunity to get on the podium, but happy to collect some ITU points. Results

    In May I jetted off to China with training partner Joe Maloy for the Chengdu World Cup. This was my first time to China. I was happy to be travelling with Joe; it helps to have a bit of familiarity when in such a new place. I missed a very large pack on the swim and ended up time trialing the whole race on my own. My 57th place finish in Chengdu is probably one of my worst races of my career. Results Facebook Photo Album (Chengdu & Yokohama)

    Best swim of my life! (Photo by: Delly Carr/ITU Media)

    Best swim of my life! (Photo by: Delly Carr/ITU Media)

    I had a second chance the next weekend in racing my very first World Triathlon Series race in Yokohama, Japan. This race was wetsuit legal, and I took complete advantage of that. I swam in the middle of the field the whole way, coming out ahead of some very accomplished athletes. I hopped on the Davison-Murray-Sissons train and we made our way up to the front of the race. This race was without a doubt the most fun I have ever had racing triathlons! I was riding right next to guys that I’ve been watching on TV since I started the sport — Brownlee, Gomez, Brownlee, etc. It was a small affirmation that my career is moving in the direction. I held on with a decent run off the bike and came in just behind Joe in 20th. A top-20 result in my first WTS race had me very excited for what was ahead. Results

    My next race was the Pan American Championships held in Dallas. I finished 5th in this event last year when it was held in Vila Vehla, Brazil. I ended up in the second chase pack on the bike, and the gaps were just too big for me to mix it up in the front end of the race. I was 33rd. Results

    We made it out to Buffalo Park in Flagstaff, Arizona a couple of times each week.

    We made it out to Buffalo Park in Flagstaff, Arizona a couple of times each week.

    Right after Dallas, The Triathlon Squad packed their bags and headed to one of my favorite places in the World, Flagstaff! We were there for about four weeks getting in an altitude training block. I saw a few friends that I went to school with and put in a lot of training hours.

    From Flagstaff I went to Chicago for my second WTS race. We were looking forward to another wetsuit swim, as the water in Lake Michigan had been quite chilly. The weather leading up to the race was pretty warm, raising the lake temperature to just under the wetsuit cutoff. The ITU and medical staff decided to ignore the temperature cutoff, and went with a nonwetsuit swim. I was well off the back on the swim, but fought like Hell on the bike. I bridged up to several guys, rode with them for a couple laps, and then ultimately broke away to see if I could cut the gap a bit more. A lot of friends commended me for my effort on the bike, which was nice to hear, but it didn’t make up for the hole I had dug myself on the swim. I finished up with a 44th place finish. Results

    IMG_2633

    My most recent race was a week ago in Jiayuguan, China. Yep, two trips to China in one year. Like Chengdu this was another World Cup, but this time at about 5,500 feet of elevation. The lake that we swam in can be quite chilly, as it is fed from the local mountains (with some peaks reaching an impressive 18,000 ft!), so my hopes were that we would have a wetsuit swim. Jiayuguan is right on the border of the Gobi desert, and the days before the race were very warm. Temperatures in the lake shot up to 23C by race morning, making it a nonwetsuit swim. I hate that swimming with a wetsuit gives me such an advantage, as I want to be an athlete that can perform in all conditions, but the reality is that, at this point, it makes a difference for me. I ended up with a very similar swim to the one I had in Chicago. Again, I rode well, this time actually pulling back some time to the front pack with a 4th best bike split. I picked off a few guys on the run, but still only finished 45th. Results

    (Photo by: Darryl Carey / ITU Media)

    (Photo by: Darryl Carey / ITU Media)

    Up next for me is a Sprint Pan American Cup race in Kelowna. I raced there two years ago, and fell in love with the area. I’m very excited to head back, this time with good friends Heather and Trevor Wurtele (they live there part of the year) and Eric Lagerstrom (also plans on racing).

    I will most likely be racing the Super Sprint event in Las Vegas on September 11th. This is not an ITU event, so no points up for grabs, but it is fun, fast racing with good prize money available.

    I will finish up my season with a couple World Cups in October, most likely Cozumel, Mexico and Tongyeong, South Korea.

    Thanks for everyone’s support and words of encouragement this season. The highs and lows of 2014 have been very polarizing, and the phone calls, emails, and little messages I have received from many of you help me keep a level head and remind me to enjoy the pursuit.

  • Ironman Arizona: watching a full triathlon

    Posted on November 18th, 2013

    Have you ever done a full triathlon?

    Whenever I tell someone I am a professional triathlete, I usually get a response like, “Do you do Ironman?” Or, “Have you done the one on Hawaii?” I usually get a look of disinterest when I tell them I specialize in Olympic distance races, and have yet to complete a “full triathlon.” Sorry, but I’m not slow enough to be an Ironman triathlete. I take that back — that was mean. I have always respected the idea of racing for eight hours or more, I’m just more interested in that one to two hour zone.

    Since I have been staying with my girl friend Mo in Tucson the past three weeks, I decided to make the quick drive up to Tempe yesterday to watch friends Jordan Rapp and Trevor Wurtele (also The Triathlon Squad teammate) compete at Ironman Arizona and see what this long course triathlon business is all about. (Shout out to Mo and her #2 ranked and undefeated University of Arizona women’s cross country team competing at this weekend’s NCAA Championships!)

     

     

    In case you didn't know...

    In case you didn’t know…

    When I got to the course, the pro men and women had just started the bike. I found the man in the orange shirt in Starbucks, of course, who had celebrity Heather Wurtele with him! Heather’s parents, whom are very proud Canadians, were also there and came out to watch their son-in-law race. (We took it easy on the Rob Ford jokes.) After getting a quick jolt of energy (coffee for them, recharge of my phone and camera for myself), we headed back to the course to see the end of the first lap of the bike. After the first lap, Matt Reed was on the front of the big lead group and both Jordan and Trevor had cut a bit of their swim deficit to the leaders. By the second lap, Jordan had ridden through the leaders and was now on the front! Trevor had also cut out a lot of time to the main pack.

    Matt Reed led the way at the end of the first bike lap.

    Matt Reed led the way at the end of the first bike lap.

    Jordan Rapp had the fastest bike split of the day.

    Jordan Rapp had the fastest bike split of the day.

    Coach Paulo giving Trevor Wurtele time gaps.

    Coach Paulo giving Trevor Wurtele time gaps.

    The bike looks like it gets pretty crazy out there. With a three lap course, the pro’s are lapping much slower riders after just an hour or so of racing. Other than the first lap, it seems like referees would have a hell of a time trying to catch anyone drafting — there are just people everywhere! I am thankful that I do not have to deal with that craziness as a short course triathlete.

    After getting some water, a snack (bag of cheetos for myself), bathroom, and some more sitting around (checking Twitter), the guys finally started to come into T2. Jordan led, followed by Pedro Gomes in 2nd and Trevor in 3rd. Jordan had a couple minutes on Pedro Gomes, and I think about six minutes on Trevor and the pack just behind.

    Trevor Wurtele was 3rd coming into T2.

    Trevor Wurtele was 3rd coming into T2.

    Jordan Rapp headed out of T2 with a sizable lead.

    Jordan Rapp headed out of T2 with a sizable lead.

    The run was definitely more entertaining to watch than the bike. We ran across Tempe Town Lake on the Mill Ave bridge and were able to see them four times each lap + the finish. It struck me that no one really seemed to be running very fast — because they weren’t. Ironman run pace is so much slower than any pace you will ever see competitive runners or short course triathletes running. That isn’t to say it is, or even looks, easy. Just another observation I made yesterday leading me to the conclusion that Ironman is hard (because if it were easy, they would be running faster!).

    Jordan would hold his lead through the first lap before Victor del Corral came charging by to take the victory. After about midway through the bike, Jordan was basically on his own the rest of the day. Kudos to him for “keeping the pressure on,” as Paulo likes to say, and holding onto 2nd place.

    Jordan Rapp: "keep the pressure on"

    Jordan Rapp: “keep the pressure on”

    Victor del Corral early on the run.

    Victor del Corral early on the run.

    Apparently the race began with thousands of people swimming here -- that was over five hours ago.

    Apparently the race began with thousands of people swimming here — that was over five hours ago.

    Trevor’s race was pretty exciting. Between spots 3-7 there was quite a lot of passing going on. After starting the run in 3rd, Trevor fell back to 6th at one point, moved back up to 4th, and ended up finishing in 6th. The race was ON the whole time. I struggled with what I should yell to both Trevor and Jordan as they ran passed each time. Generally when I am watching a race, I have constructive comments to make, or I try to say something that will help inspire and get their inner-voice to give some positive self talk. I realized I have no idea what they must be going through at this stage of the race. I felt unqualified to yell much of anything besides, “GO TREVOR!” or, “COME ON JORDAN!”

    GO TREVOR!

    GO TREVOR!

    Some of the guys Trevor was battling:

    Pedro Gomes

    Pedro Gomes of Portugal

    Marc Duelson of Germany

    Marc Duelson of Germany

    Jens Petersen-Bach

    Jens Petersen-Bach of Denmark

    Denis Chevrot of France

    Denis Chevrot of France

    After about 7.5 hours of racing, it hit me: they were still racing! These guys are animals!

     

    Long course spectating looks a lot like this. Note to self: bring more nutrition next time. I was starving!

    Long course spectating looks a lot like this. Note to self: bring more nutrition next time. I was starving!

    Some final takeaways. After watching, does this make me want to do an Ironman? I do, but not tomorrow. Watching Ironman Arizona really did make me more interested in doing one, but not enough to throw the Olympic dream out the window. I have doubted whether I would ever want to do one as a pro, but I think after yesterday, I actually would like to give it a go as a pro, perhaps in the twilight years of my career as you often see from other ITU-focused athletes.

    I know how much hard work these athletes put into their training and I have always respected them for that. I think yesterday gave me some new appreciation for what these guys (and girls, of course) put themselves through on the individual day. This race is so long that there is no doubt everyone goes through some very very dark moments, hopefully spaced out with some really high highs. It was pretty inspiring seeing the quantity of athletes out there just drilling themselves, going for it, and blowing up.

    Again, not something I’m dying to do tomorrow, but a “full triathlon” is something I’d like to experience in my life.